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Two Women's Voices in the Race & Gender Debate

By January 22, 2008

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Last night's Democratic presidential debate got very ugly. Afterwards, I told myself, "That's enough - I'm tired of the race/gender debate and how it's taking down this 2008 race." I promised myself I would not write about it here. But this morning, About.com Civil Liberties Guide Tom Head passed along a link to a transcript of a Democracy Now! broadcast on January 14, 2008.

It's powerful stuff. You won't find two better guests - feminist pioneer and Ms. Magazine founder Gloria Steinem and Princeton University Associate Professor of Politics and African American Studies Melissa Harris-Lacewell - to debate this polarizing topic. And you will learn a great deal, as I did.

Steinem discusses the intent behind her controversial New York Times op-ed piece and her dismay that the gender bashing of Clinton has descended into what are essentially pornographic treatments of the Senator. Harris-Lacewell calls Steinem out on what she finds racist about her statements, and reveals that her own op-ed piece at Slate has resulted in death threats against her and her daughter.

Steinem, to her credit, focuses on the end result and reminds us of the need for mutual respect, even in the most heated moments:

...[W]e have to win this election, and we have to win our humanity, in addition and along the way.... I refuse to be divided on this. It seems to me that ... fundamentally ... we have to keep talking and keep honoring each otherís opinions ...
Yes, we must continue to honor each other's opinions. But first, we have to feel empowered to voice them.

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January 23, 2008 at 12:24 pm
(1) Heather says:

Is a feminist critique of the segment being noted. It also notes the fact that Melissa Harris-Lacwell appeared on Democracy Now the week before and praised Barack Obama while pretending not to be a supporter.
I go with Gloria. She’s never tried to put one over on me.

January 23, 2008 at 5:17 pm
(2) womensissues says:

Thanks, Heather. If you’re reading this, you should follow Heather’s link above to Third Estate, where a thorough and specific critique of the segment is posted.

Heather, anyone who’s seen Harris-Lacewell’s Slate op-ed knows where her loyalties lie. Yes, she comes across as a bulldog, but I trust those who take the time to see the clip of the debate (about 50 minutes long) can judge for themselves. Ms. Steinem certainly deserved more respect than she was accorded in the interview.

You’re right, however, about hidden agendas. Amy Goodman has them, like all media outlets. As do I. I just hope mine aren’t as obvious.

January 23, 2008 at 10:52 pm
(3) Marti says:

First, I enjoyed “Two Women’s Voices” and thank you for it. Second, my only problem with About.com is that these posts tend to disappear a few months later when I try to come back and re-read. I really need to think about things and reflect, maybe I’m just slow. But is that something that’s been fixed or fixable? Third, I went to the link after the second comment and I’m so glad I did. I watched the Steinem and Harris-Lacewell episode and remembered thinking, “Where do I know Harris-Lacewell from?” She was on the week before and, no, we were not told that she was campaigning for Obama. I watched that episode and thought, “Oh, that’s great. That professor is in New Hampshire with students and she’s just sharing some observations.” It should have been stated on that New Hampshire report that Harris-Lacewell was supporting and campaigning for Obama. Fourth, since Ms. magazine ended their blogs, this really is the only place where I can go to find up to date, breaking commentary so thank you Linda Lowen. It really is important that we hear women’s perspectives and we rarely get that in the news cycle at the ‘traditional’ outlets. I appreciate having this space at About.com.

January 24, 2008 at 1:17 am
(4) womensissues says:

Marti, two things that should make you happy:

1) Each post has a permalink that will lead you directly to it today, tomorrow, or ten years from now if I’m still here, blank willing, so choose your favorite method of saving that direct link; and

2) In the left hand column, under Politics and Women, there’s now a new subcategory that will gather all women’s political commentary on this presidential race in one place. So you’ll be able to find it there as well.

Actually, this third thing will also please you – I’m in the process of compiling an article listing sites that cover politics from a woman’s perspective. So if I don’t get to do a round-up that day or week, the sites I point to definitely will. There’s some great resources out there for us – it just takes some time to find them, and who among us has that time? Not me, fer shur. But for you, I’ll put it together.

Thanks for the words of encouragement. I always promised myself if I had the chance, I’d create the site I’ve always been looking for but never found. I’m glad you find this to be that site.

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